PESHAWAR - Haj aspirants coming from different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to Haji Camp, Peshawar, are facing insufficient facilities as the camp lacks air-conditioned rooms despite scorching heat; besides low quality of food is being provided in the canteen at exorbitant prices.

During a visit to the Haji Camp, this scribe witnessed that facilities for the guests were extremely poor, where the Haj aspirants spent sleepless nights due to mosquitoes and hot and unhygienic environment. Though all the offices of the Directorate of Haj were well decorated and even the room of PS to director was air-conditioned but the pilgrims, who will be leaving the country for a sacred religious service, are facing poor environment and food.

Besides this, several pilgrims complained that they had been asked to rearrange their fingerprints in their respective stations and after reaching the Haji Camp, they were returned back for the fingerprints which cost them double charges of transport.

In the same group, some passports of the family members were missing and they were told to wait for four and five days till completion of their documents and the passport.

A Haj aspirant, Shah Zarin Khan, said that he came to Haji camp and was later told that his fingerprints were not appropriate and he again went to Mardan for his fingerprints. Another pilgrim said that he and his family had applied for Haj but the case of his wife was refused and now he would go alone to perform Haj this year. He added that his wife would now wait for five years, as a visitor could not go consecutively for two years and they have to wait for five years under government scheme.

He said that this time, the Ministry of Haj had not released the remaining amount of the pilgrims as previously, each pilgrim was paid 7 to 8 thousand rupees from their deposited money. The pilgrims held the caretaker government responsible for their worries and said that federal caretaker minister and secretary religious affair did not take their problems seriously. They appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nesar to take action against the responsible persons who demonstrated negligence while performing their duties.

As this scribe enquired regarding poor arrangements in Haji Camp, Director Shakeel Ahmad Sethi said that the Hajj directorate was facing shortage of funds and it was not possible for them to arrange air-conditioned rooms for all pilgrims. He said that they were trying to improve the lodging facilities for next year, adding that another hostel was under construction having underground portion for pilgrims to protect them from heat.

Regarding the canteen facilities, he said that canteen owners would be fined for poor arrangements and a new canteen would be established in the new block to improve food facilities in the directorate of Hajj. He further said that due to the BRT construction work, outside area of the Hajj directorate was occupied by BRT contractors which caused pollution and limited space for the visitors.

CTCM TAKES NOTICE OF SUBSTANDARD AHRAMS

APP adds: Caretaker Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Dost Muhammad Khan directed the divisional and district administrations to launch raids both on the open markets and the Haji camp Peshawar and the culprits selling out Ahrams and other stuff required by the Hujjaj in the Haji Camp and in the open markets.

The caretaker chief minister issued a directive asking the relevant authority to form raiding parties to conduct surprise raids on the Haji Camp. Anything found wrong in the Haji Camp would be dealt with an iron hand, said a handout issued in Peshawar on Sunday.

The district administration should be vigilant and watchful closely monitoring the Haji Camp and even the quality of items in the open markets. Ahram and other items required for the Hujjaj should be available on reasonable rates. Extra rates and high prices should not be allowed.

Meanwhile, the caretaker chief minister cancelled all the permits for exporting sacrificial animals, vegetables and other stuff of daily use to Afghanistan. He directed all the district administrations to implement his decisions in letter and spirit. This order will remain in force till Eidul Azha. The smuggling of sacrificial animals and other food stuffs adversely affects the locals and brings spiral of prices. This exercise is meant to remove the adverse effect on purchasing potential of the locals.